Dear Elder Chet,
I read Elder Smoot’s article several times,and got more out of it each time. Excellent!
Just two questions if I may ask.
On page 9, top paragraph, he mentions the “sinner born again theory.” By this does he mean the belief by Arminians and psuedo-calvinists that the sinner must choose to be born again, rather than a work of the Holy Spirit alone? If so then I understand. If not, I am at a loss here.
On same page he says “that such a commandment, in the peculiar sense in which they were given, were addressed to all men.” I don’t understand what he means at all.
I would appreciate (again) your help.
March 19, 2010
I am glad that you found Elder Smoot’s article edifying and informative. He lived and wrote in some very disturbing times in the nation and in the history of the brethren. You may have a better understanding of this by reading “The Contest” which may be found on Tom Adams’ web page. It is lengthy and many of the names are not familiar but the course of the new ideas and practices can be traced. It is according to and in context to this historical setting that the two comments that you have questioned were made.
The doctrinal derivation of ‘sinners being reborn’ stem back to the reformers and their attempts to modify the leprosy of their evil twin sister from Rome. The idea is exactly what Nicodemus said in John 3 when he came to Jesus by night. Jesus said ‘you must BE born anew’. The translators used ‘born again’ which is a fair rendering and seems to be exactly what Nick understood. He asked ‘How can a man enter into his mothers womb and be born a second time?’, clearly thinking that this Adamic carcass must be born AGAIN. This doctrine was revisited by the ‘reformers’ and became paramount in the idea of faith and good works. Calvin wrote that after a man is regenerated (which is a miss-use of this term as I understand it) he now has the carnal ability to be obedient and to perform good works. This two fold cooperation with God in one’s salvation begins with the presence and influence of the Spirit of God but cannot be completed until man “raises himself from death to life” (Inst. 595). After the death of Elder Beebe there arose these same ideas, as formulated by Wesley and Fuller, that the sinner was reborn and now has the ability to live a holy life, gain the victory over sin and become progressively better (progressive sanctification). Many who said that they believed in the sovereignty of God and called themselves of the ‘Old Line’ began to embrace this idea that man and therefore society would become a better place by the conversion of the sinner into the saint.
This is not what Jesus meant for He said the Nicodemus, “Unless one receives birth from above he is not able to see the Kingdom of God”. Being born from above is being born anew or twice, being born of water AND the Spirit, but it is not the making over of the existing natural man. Being born from above is the implantation of the eternal Holy seed by the Holy Spirit into the earthen vessel that has been eternally ordain and predestinated to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Being thus prepared as ‘good ground’ to receive the seed and bring forth fruit (Matt. 13), one is born by the Spirit having been ‘created in Christ Jesus unto good works’. This dichotomous relationship between the seed and the flesh is the warfare that Paul speaks of in Romans 7:18, “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me (evidence of being born from above); but how to perform that which is good I find not (the impotence of the flesh)”. This conflict can only be evident if there is life within and death without. This earthen vessel was formed from the dust of the earth and to the dust it shall return but the life which is within is eternal and therefore, “now we are the Sons of God and although it does not yet appear what we shall be, we know that when He appears we shall be like Him”.
This doctrine is still very strong today and many will fight, tooth and nail, for the ability of the natural man with the ‘help’ of the Spirit to “Surrender my all unto Him”, “make Him Lord of my life” and “find victory over sin”. The Apostle Paul knew of no such thing for he wrote by the inspiration of that same quickening Spirit, “Now if I do that which I would not it is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth within me”.
The second part of your question is like unto the first. Those that opposed the sovereignty of God attack His power and will. They say that, “if” He is all powerful and He says “Thou shalt not”, how then can something come to pass except man has a free will to obey or disobey God’s decree. They affirm that God’s law as spoken on Mt. Sinai, was to all mankind and there for all are condemned for the violation of that law. But to say that God spoke His law and did not give man the ability to obey it makes His law “UNFAIR”. They ask, what good is an offer for life and blessings if there is no possibility of compliance?
God’s Holy Law as the eternal King and Lord of all is upon all mankind and man, in and of himself, not only has not the ability to keep it but hasn’t the slightest idea about it. God has put the things of this world into the hearts of man that he cannot find out the things of God by searching. Romans 9 tells us that God is not a respecter of the good or the evil we may do, “for the children, not yet being born, neither having done good nor evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated” (9:11f). And that no flesh should glory in His sight, every descendant of Adam fell in his action and as a result to the ordain will of God in the garden so that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. God’s “Wills and shalls” attest to His Holiness and the great fixed gulf between His righteousness and mans impotent vileness. His Law is sure and anyone who keeps His law shall be worthy of His praise and glory. Thus Jesus, the Son of man, kept the law and fulfilled it in righteousness and the result was that He was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of His people. Therefore He was raised again by the power of God, when He saw the travail of His soul and was well pleased, and His people were raised with and in Him, unto that glory that He and the Father have before the world began. Therefore His people are buried with Him by His baptism into His death and burial and raised again unto newness of life, by which Hope we are saved.
The opponents of the truth have been chipping away at their walls made with untempered mortar, seeking dead man’s bones and thinking they have unraveled the secrets of the mystery of God and shall continue to do so till time be no more. God has sent them this strong delusion that they should believe the lie that man has a free will and the ability to please God. They love it, feed upon it, satiating their dead souls and think themselves doctors and masters of the divinity of God. But like the early morning dew, their confidence and glory shall vanish when The King arises like the morning sun and the judgment fires burn without quenching.
Forgive my brevity and incompetence in the matters. I hope that the Spirit will convey the precious truth and you are given to feast at His table.
Your servant in Christ,
March 20, 2010